Fun with Unemployment

OK…I’ve rearranged all my books and grouped them by subject (while stopping short of using the Library of Congress system), all the dishes are clean, and the floors are swept, I’ve rearranged and fixed almost every page on the web site, answered all my email, cleaned up the hard drive…what do I do next?

Unemployment is hard to get used to. I’ve never done it before. So frighteningly much free time. No structure to my life or my days. It’s really odd. I never really noticed it until this week; for the first few weeks, I was in North Carolina, so it seemed like a natural vacation. Now I’m home and I’m a little perplexed by the whole scene.

A few good things: I’ve been able to do things in the daytime, like the MacWorld Expo Friday, lunch with Mark today, “I Love Lucy” at 2PM on Channel 20 every day… Tomorrow I get to wait for the repair person from PG&E to come fix the heat. Great timing…the coldest it’s been in San Francisco in the 4 1/2 years I’ve lived here and I have no heat. And just when I’m spending all day at home too…

I’ve decided that this month would be a really convenient time for me to have a heavy romantic involvement, if anyone’s interested. I have time now, and I don’t have to worry about getting out of bed to go to work. I can linger by the phone all day waiting for “him to call”, without worry about having to be somewhere else at a given time. Plus, someone else in the sack would help with the heating situation immensely…

Anybody wanna go see a bargain matinee?

Reflections on Leaving Kinko’s

It’s all over: the party, the final day, everything. After seven years, four months (to the day, incidentally), I am no longer empoyed. It feels, I must say, really fucking strange. No more voice mail, no more stessed-out whiny yuppie babies, no more lines and corporate double-talk.

To its credit, I was always treated well. I never really felt “fucked over”, I advanced pretty far before complete burnout hit, and my last boss was great for letting me (a) do my job with minimal second-guessing and (b) supporting me in the pursuit my own interests. I’ve made friends from coast to coast.

Neither our regional manager nor our owner bothered to call me and wish me well after seven years of working together very closely. On the other hand, my Payroll administrator, who I’ve met one time and who I love, called the day before I left. Hooray for the rank and file!

Last Day at Kinko’s

On the coldest day of the year so far, I joined the ranks of the unemployed. Of course, there was no chance that it would be an easy day. Staffing was a tad short, due to vacations, training of the “replacement team”, etc., so I got a chance to alternate beteween moments of extreme stress and the perspective that — no matter what — this scene really had no further impact on my life. I closed out the voice mail, emptied out my folder on the network hard drive, and — as my last administrative duties — completed a review and promoted someone.

I did get the pleasure of one last run-in with an obnoxious yuppie shitbag. As I came into the confrontation, related to something which was about five minutes late, the rabid bitch was standing at the counter snapping her fingers yelling “Chop chop…let’s go. I want it now.” No matter what preceded it, this was tremendously inappropriate and unprofessional and I let her know that. Didn’t phase her or affect her exaggerated sense of self-importance, but it felt good…

There was a great cake and Sarah brought pastries. After about 2PM, I was essentially useless, except for Brendan’s review. Lots of last minute details and pass downs and quick hugs. I announced the promotion, started saying goodbye (a long process which began to get a bit teary), and by 4:15, it was all over. Rae and I punched out for the last time, and we were gone.

Once outside, it was so surreal. After all these years, I’m unemployed. All the stress was over and I wasn’t sure exactly where it went. The fact that we would no longer be seeing these people we both love dearly seemed very real. Rae and I just looked at each other with this sort of “what the fuck?” expression. I lit a cigarette. We went to the bank to get cash. We went straight to the corner bar. We began drinking. Things got better. Ray, Angela, and Mark eventually joined us. They felt better too.

Tomorrow is my first day of unemployment. I sense the unusual sensations are just beginning. If this is so strange, getting fired must be really weird…

Farewell Party

I think it was originally supposed to be a surprise party and was originally just for me, but neither component quite happened. I had to be informed (in order to get me there) and Rae’s announcement that she too was leaving added to the festivities. Appropriately enough, it was held at Harrington’s on Front Street, our offcial “what a crappy day” bar. I had a few big realizations. The first was that I’m really going to miss seeing all these people on a daily basis because I’ve developed some real friendships here. The second is that my camcorder is not great in low-light situations.

 

The loot: Rae got a “classic disco” CD, as well as her very own copy of the “Macarena”. In a big rash of appropriateness, I received “Television’s Greatest Hits” and “Tube Tunes”. There was much food, much beer (thanks again, Clinton) and hours of good Christian fellowship, despite the fact that a fair number of us were pretty damned hungover from the Christmas party the night before. It was a very good thing.

Maybe It Wasn’t a Cold

It was most definitely a restful holiday. Much of that, unfortunately, had to do with the fact that I couldn’t drag my ass out of bed except for the few hours of the wonderful Thanksgiving feast Chez Rae (pictured) and Michael. I was planning to include pictures, but two things stopped me. First, my energy level didn’t allow me to do it. Second, I decided to take a holiday break from chronicling and preserving every aspect of life. So there.

Spending the holidays far from “home” has never been as disorienting or as unpleasant for me as it’s supposed to be. In four years in San Francisco, I’ve spent one Thanksgiving back in north Carolina and this year’s Christmas will be the first one I’ve spent there. By and large, I’ve had some pretty good holidays here. The big difference, of course, is that in the absence of a family, with whom you’re “supposed” to spend the holidays, you get to actually choose your companions. It’s pretty cool, actually. This is not to say that I don’t like my family. I’d just prefer, given the choice, to be with them at times other than the insane holiday season.

Anyway…today was a good Thanksgiving, spent mostly among disenfranchised Kinkoids. Food was great, company was good, and the football game was not the main focus of attention! The only problem was the nasty bronchitis which has overtaken my lungs and is doomed to make me a miserable whiny wretch throughout the holiday weekend. And I thought I just had a cold. Y’know, I thought strep was bad, but this bronchitis shit is the most unpleasant malady I think I’ve ever experienced. It’s made me damn near useless for almost two weeks now. Oh well…thank God(dess)(es) for Codeine.

I have decided that Friday will be the day that I become a functioning human being again. Wish me luck.

The Rainy Season and a Cold

The rainy season arrived this weekend. Specifically, it arrived as I was walking around Union Square Saturday morning without anything resembling a raincoat or an umbrella. Happens to me that way almost every year. The opening of the rainy season is a new West Coast ritual I’ve had to adjust to since being here. On the East Coast, of course, rain is something that happens on and off throughout the year. In California, it’s pretty much confined to a four-month period. And there’s always one thoroughly soggy, gray weekend which — although it may not be the first rain of the year — is always a dramatic introduction to the months to come.

You can always tell when this weekend hits by the volume of e-mail. Saturdays and Sundays are usually pretty low-volume for me, but this weekend I was flooded. When it’s raining in Internet Central, it shows.

As luck would have it, the beginning of the rainy season was accompanied by my first really nasty winter cold (thanks, Mr. “I’m Not Contagious”). It’s one of those really knockout ones; I feel like I’ve been run over by a freight train. I’m on my second day out of work and I’m BORED!! Aside from Lucille Ball in the remake of “Auntie Mame”, which I’m watching right now, TV has sucked. Even if I felt like leaving the house, I’d be worried that work would call the second I left (OK…not that worried…)

A few ideas for how to spend time home alone and sick:

  • Make a Kleenex sculpture.
  • Answer all the e-mail you’ve been avoiding like the plague.
  • Start working your way through that Quark book, even though your “borrowed” copy of Quark has become corrupted, making it hard to follow along.
  • Scan the Sunday paper for jobs you aren’t qualified for.
  • Organize and catalog your pornography by fetish.
  • Identify and label the stuff in the back of the refrigerator by species and creation date.
  • Alka-Seltzer Plus cocktails at 10 and 3.
  • Write another long essay about the nature of sex, love, and relationships. Or don’t, and save yourself lots of pointed questions…

Random Updates

Just for today, I’m not going to rant or rave about much of anything! The only thing on the agenda is an update of what’s going on in my life at this point in time, in case anyone cares…

A few carefully lit fires — no pun intended — have started getting a bit of reaction out of my insurance company in relation to the pile of ashes which used to be my car. I’m expecting a settlement any day now. I think informing them that they’d be paying for a rental repalcement of my choosing until I have a check in hand may have helped a bit.

No job yet, but so far I’m pretty much convinced that giving Kinko’s the heave-ho was quite the right thing to do. Today was especially convincing; the yuppie slimebags were as annoying as usual. Yesterday I taught an Internet class at one of the outlying San Francisco stores. I was amazed at how different the neighborhood atmosphere was. People were actaully smiling and walking down the street at a normal pace. No one had the perpetually constipated look of the Financial Distrist corporate automatons. It was really nice. It’s a sad thing that so many people let work rule their lives to the point of making them such unbearable substitutes for human beings. Note to the Financial District crowd: take a Valium or at least take a break once in a while!

Side note: a rumor is floating about that Kinko’s is advertising on Pat Robertson’s Family Channel (formerly the Christian Broadcasting Network). I cannot confirm this rumor. Has anyone seen commercials on this highly offensive, rabidly anti-gay and pro-enforced childbirth network? If so, please let me know, and I’ll keep you informed of how my complaints are received.

Had dinner last night with my ex David at the new IHOP South of Market. It is, without question, the creepiest IHOP atmosphere I’ve ever seen. It’s in the basement of an old commercial building and is just too damned well-lit and pastel-tinted. It’s located next to Moscone Convention Center, but the crowd seems to be more “downtown drug dealer” than “conventioneer executive”, although one middle-class mother with teen-age son was inside and looked a little horrified when David and I began discussing watersports. Denny’s is scheduled to open a few doors down very soon. Should be fun to watch.

Ran into Ron, a guy I “went out” with a few times, at lunch today and found out that his band (which was one of two whose debuts I attended recently, the other being Lucifag) is fizzling. We did the “lost your number…give me a call” routine. I never know when that’s meant sincerely or not (sometimes I really DO mean it); we did have fun…

Speaking of bands, I’ll be seeing The Third Sex at Faster Pussycat tonight. It’ll be kinda cool seeing a band on the midwestern end of a tour and then at home on the same tour. Love them…they’re great. (Note: missed ’em…the show moved…found out too late…hate life…)

As for the weekend, I’m geeting back together with this guy named Rob who I recently met in a dark back corner somewhere. He’s terminally cute, fun, shares some of my perversions, and is a pretty danged OK kinda guy, despite being from L.A. He follows orders well, and he scores major points for suggesting — without prompting — Jack in the Box as a food stop on the way back to his apartment Sunday night. More points added for being suitably worshipful about Planet SOMA…I’ll work on pictures soon.

Mom and Dad’s anniversary yesterday. Forty-seven years. Scary. I somehow doubt I’ll have a relationship last quite that long.

Gotta run now…food calls.

Thanks for checking in…

Sex, Love, and Relationships

When I was coming out at age 17, a major theme in my writing was that sex and love were essentially the same thing…there was (and could be) no difference between the two. “How can you be with someone if there’s no love?”, I asked. “How can gay men be so promiscuous?” “Sex without love is meaningless.” I was very young and idealistic. I was later to find that sex and love were not necessarily related in any way.

As I aged, I began taking to heart the 70’s texts which were the only ones available in the Greensboro Public Library . Gay relationships did not need to “ape” heterosexual marriage. A relationship not based in total freedom and mired in jealousy and suspicion is invalid from the onset. Queers are free to develop new concepts where love is concerned. Even now, I don’t disagree; I’ve developed a whole lifestyle based on divorcing the concept of sex and love. It has suited me well for many years.

Or has it? Sometimes I think I have rendered myself incapable of having a relationship based on love, trust, and (assorted gods forbid) monogamy. I tell myself repeatedly that this is not what I want.

I spent a lot of time alone as a kid, and I’ve continued doing so as an adult. In junior high and — to a lesser extent –high school, I was not what you would describe as popular. Most of my weekends were spent alone, reading, driving around aimlessly, and immersed in thought. A positive result of this is that I’ve become quite comfortable with my own company. I don’t need someone around in order to complete every little activity like eating, going to a movie, traveling, etc. In fact, I often prefer to do many of these things alone. Unfortunately, the experience has also left some of my critical social skills a bit lacking.

Also, I am selfish by nature — blame it on being an only child if you like — and I often see myself as totally unwilling to commit myself to another person. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because I shouldn’t expect anyone else to do the same for me. But there’s a paradox here. Sometimes I do find myself willing to commit, and then I expect the return, which is often not forthcoming.

Is it any wonder the longest “relationship” of my life lasted a scant six months? It’s a very unusual thing when i find myself willing to commit to a relationship, and when I do this, I tend to expect a more than satisfactory return on my emotional investment. If I’m going to suffer and pine away, I want the other person to suffer and pine away just as much. If I’m going to break all my own rules and get completely “hooked”, I expect the same in return. No wonder things get so strange; life and relationships just don’t work that way.

Of course, communication is a big factor. I often complain that “I don’t know where I stand”. I think this is a pretty universal problem; there is precious little actual communication in most relationships. In my case, I realize that it stems from my inability to let myself show traces of vulnerability by actually admitting how involved I am. So how can I fault someone else for not doing the same thing? Also, I have a big fear of screwing things up by over-analyzing and of scaring other people off by “talking about it too much”, even though I realize I’m screwing up even more by NOT talking. Maybe I’m too worried about causing the other person problems to pay attention to the wear and tear I’m exposing myself to.

Why can’t sex just be sex? What’s wrong with a series of “fuck buddies” with whom you may also share friendship, but not necessarily traditional “love”? I’ve always thought I’d grow old with a few good, non-sexual friends and get my urges taken care of on the side. I have really high standards for the people I call my “friends”; very few manage to make it for the long haul. But what happens when someone meets these standards and there’s also a “romantic” connection? Is it time to re-evaluate the concept that the people I really like and the people I have sex with should be completely separate? Is it not possible that I’m not always after “the wrong boy”?

Obviously I have a lot on my mind right now, and while this current round of analysis may have been triggered by a specific scenario, it’s a pattern I often ponder, and obviously worry about as well. Boys will continue to come and go, but will I allow myself to keep them around for a while?

Living with a Slob (Named Me)

I’m a bit of a slob, there’s no denying it. Housekeeping is not my forte. Probably never will be. My room is a mess comparable to that of the legendary Oscar Madison, clothes and papers everywhere, a few dishes scattered around, just a vaguely neurotic disarray surrounding me on all sides. Perhaps it’s the sign of a cluttered — if active — mind. Long ago, I reconciled myself to the fact that I’ll never live in an immaculate picture perfect house. It’s just not gonna happen.

Strange then that I’m so obsessively clean of body and that my work space (including the computer desktop) must be so stunningly and neatly organized or I go completely nuts. And that I empty ashtrays with an almost psychotic furor. Go figure…

Today’s lesson will be in part about ways to deal with a resident slob, or at least this particular one.

1. Sarcasm doesn’t work.

Or at least not in my case. My dad tried it when I was a kid (“Here…I’ll pick up that dish for you”, “It’s OK…I’ll put that towel in the hamper.”) Obviously it didn’t work. All it made me do was shoot the bird at him behind his back. I found out today that it still produces this reaction.

2. Sometimes guilt works.

Sulk around, looking exasperated at the mess. Occasionally pick up something. Be an “enabler”. With me, this usually results in a guilt-induced cleaning spree which would make June Cleaver proud.

3. Learn coping skills.

Despite our nature, slobs can usually meet you half way. we can keep our messes confined to a certain mutually agreed upon area. It won’t always work, but usually we’ll try to keep things in order as much as possible. sometimes we may let the mess linger, but we’re usually acutely aware of it and will have a sudden energy boost which will rectify the situation eventually.

OK, I got a bit pissed today when the roomie made a remark or two about things I left sitting out in the bathroom. He had every right to be mad, but by phrasing his complaint the way he did and then leaving before I could respond — probably a wise move — all he accomplished was adding to my already pissy mood. Most days I wouldn’t have let it bother me but today was not most days given my current collection of insecurities.

What? Yer Humble Host is not feeling on top of the world? What could be the problem in Mecca? Oh you know, the ususal mundane things like someone burning my car to a crisp, realizing (sometimes in horror) that I’ll be unemployed in two months, having a thing for someone who’s 2000 miles away, being (gasp) bored with fags in general and (bigger gasp) even slightly bored with the City. Today was a bit of a roller coaster ride; I usually keep a pretty positive frame of mind going, despite my cynicism. Today it went from pissed off to edgy to almost inexplicably bawling while walking around in Border’s. Strange…maybe it’s hormones…

Of course, just for effect, it was really cold and windy and gray today, but that’s usually a plus for me.

Ah, but I’m getting whiny. This must stop. Things are generally good, despite my vague unease with the planet. “The Simpsons” have returned for the fall, hits are up on the old web site, I got a very favorable comment on a “secret” picture of myself which lies within the confines of Planet SOMA (ego boosts are a good thing) from someone who didn’t even know it was me, I bought a cool Route 66 video tonight, and The Third Sex is playing in town on the 13th. By tomorrow, I’ll be thinking happy thoughts again. I promise.

But it’s a safe bet I’ll be absolutely no better at housekeeping.